WEST JEFFERSON-Read all about it.
On Dec. 1, Ashe Mountain Times and the Jefferson Post will join resources to combine their publications into one new weekly newspaper, the Ashe Post & Times, according to group publisher Gene Fowler Jr.
Adams Publishing Group acquired Ashe Mountain Times in 2016, and more recently, the Jefferson Post in November. While both newspapers have a solid footprint in Ashe County, combining the products will better serve local residents with editorial and advertising coverage, Fowler said.
“We will take the strengths of each newspaper and combine them to make a comprehensive and financially stable weekly newspaper, as well as a digital product that will be updated 24/7,” said Fowler.
Teresa Laws, Jefferson Post general manager, has been named the general manager of the Ashe Post & Times, Fowler said. That decision was an easy one, he said, given Laws’ experience and local roots.
Laws was born and raised in Ashe County. She graduated from Ashe Central High School and Wilkes Community College and has worked with the Jefferson Post for the past two decades.
“The Jefferson Post has been a big part of my career for 20 years, and we are closing the books on this chapter,” Laws said. “I have learned a lot of things over the past years and can’t wait to bring my experience and lessons to our new publication as general manager. I am excited for the residents of Ashe County as well as the advertisers who will fall in love with the new look, the new name — but most importantly, the same service they have come to expect.”
Adam Orr, editor of the Jefferson Post, will oversee day-to-day editorial operations of the Ashe Post & Times. Tom Mayer, editor of Ashe Mountain Times, will continue as executive editor to oversee newspaper operations, as he has since 2010, of the High Country group of newspapers that includes the Ashe Post & Times.
Together, Mayer and Orr bring decades of newspaper experience to Ashe County — including Orr’s experience working at both the Post and the Times.
Orr, a graduate of Ashe County High School and Western Carolina University, joined the Jefferson Post as a staff writer in 2011. He later wrote for Ashe Mountain Times and the Gaston Gazette before returning home to assume the editorship of the Jefferson Post.
“I truly believe this merger is going to give Ashe County readers the most bang for their buck — online and in print,” Orr said. “We’re bringing together two organizations that each have long, proud histories, and the end result is going to offer something for everyone to love.”
Details of what the merger means for local readers and advertisers will be forthcoming during the next three weeks, Fowler said.
The transition, he said, will be seamless. No current subscribers or advertisers of either publication will see a break in service as the new product is established. Digital subscribers and advertisers will be similarly directed to the Ashe Post & Times website.
Newspaper mergers in Ashe County
Combining newspapers is not a new idea in Ashe County. While the Jefferson Post can directly trace its founding to 1988, the twice-weekly newspaper’s roots go back even farther.
The newspaper was the result of a merger between Ashe County’s historic weekly newspapers The Skyland Post and a competing weekly of 10 years, the Jefferson Times.
The Skyland Post got its name from an early slogan for mountainous Ashe County, “The Land of the Sky.” The Skyland Post was purchased in the 1930s by Ed M. Anderson, whose newspaper empire included The Alleghany News in Sparta, the Spindale Sun in Spindale, the Transylvania Times in Transylvania County and the Courier in Forest City. Stella W. Anderson was editor of The Skyland Post from her husband’s death until the early-1980s, when it was purchased by Patty Wheeler, and her husband, Al.
In October 1988, The Skyland Post merged with the Jefferson Times, which had been competing with the Post since August 1978.
The Ashe County edition of the Mountain Times was formed in 1993 as an extension of the Mountain Times in Watauga County. Within just a few years, the newspaper was catering more to the local community and focusing on the people and places of Ashe County.
Keeping a local focus was the priority, and the newspaper underwent a design change and became the Ashe Mountain Times.